Influential point guard CJ Bruton will return to the New Zealand Breakers line-up for the reigning NBL champions' New Year's Eve clash against Cairns.
Bruton has had to sit and watch the table-topping Breakers' past five games as he recovers from a torn patella tendon in his knee.
The Breakers still sit atop the NBL table with 10 wins from 14 starts, although it stuttered last Friday when the second-placed Perth Wildcats racked up a convincing 86-62 win at Challenge Stadium.
While his repaired tendon still requires careful management, the sight of Bruton mixing it up in practice, making three-pointers and driving the lane was a welcome sight for Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis.
"Leadership and experience are big things that CJ brings, and the ability to be calm in times of excitement and anxiety," Lemanis said.
"And obviously his ability to put the ball in the basket or give a shot to a team-mate is something that is always handy."
Bruton himself is downplaying his return.
"Everyone gets injured, it's not the end of the world. It's just something you have to get over," he said.
Lemanis was pleased with the intensity shown in practice, with plenty of physicality as the team scrimmaged for the final time before leaving on Friday for Cairns.
"It was good today," Lemanis said.
"So far this week we have lacked a bit of an edge and we spoke about that before practice."
AAPTags: basketball, sport, nbl, new-zealand First posted December 29, 2011 16:45:20